Overview: A big climb to the top of the highest summit in the Wasatch Mountains, this route is also ideal in fall for magnificent maple displays. The summit of Mt. Nebo actually has 3 peaks, with this trail taking you to the south summit (2nd highest) at 11,877 feet. The highpoint is the north summit about 1 mile away. It can be reached from the south, but requires a class 3-4 knife ridge traverse that is certainly to be avoided in inclement weather. the north summit sits about 50 feet higher. The hike to the summit of south Nebo is class 2.
Warning the ridge line to the summit and the peaks are completely exposed and above timberline. This is not th place to be during a storm.
Hike: The signed Nebo Bench trail takes off from the nice parking area and immediately begins climbing into the maple and oak forest. This is the only trail sign you will see all day. The immediate elevation gain is a sign of things to come, as the huge gain on this hike leads to a constant state of "going up" all the way to the top. The initial stretches of trail climb up through the oak and maple forest of Andrew's Canyon and can be spectacular in the fall. The trail varies from very nice, to a little muddy and washed out along the switchbacking slopes but is always easy to follow. A little short clearing a bit over a mile in allows the first nice views of Nebo. You climb in and out of the forest as you ultimately pursue obtaining Andrew's Ridge as your approach to the summit ridge line.
Once you achieve Andrew's Ridge, you will continue to hike along the ridge or just off to the north side for a couple of miles, again occasionally passing through forest, now composed of conifers and some aspen. You will also cross over a few prominent drainages. Finally just a bit over 4 miles in to the hike you come to an unsigned trail intersection in the trees. An obvious trail breaks slightly right and down (the continuation of Nebo Bench). A second trail goes generally straight and slightly up (the summit ridge trail - your choice) and a third faint use path heads almost straight up/left. Go straight onto the summit ridge trail. The next half mile switchbacks and climbs wildly up to the summit ridge line through open grasses and flowers. Once you hit the summit ridge line there is a sign pointing to the right, indicating mighty Mt. Nebo lies ahead. Turn right onto the obvious trail. The summit of South Nebo lies about 1.8 miles up the ridge line, which is now basically entirely above timberline. The views of the Nebo peaks are fantastic, and from the ridge you can see almost forever, it seems, into the Wasatch and also over Utah Lake.
The hike along the ridge to the southern summit gradually increases in steepness and is across talus most of the way but there is a pretty easy trail to follow. At a few points the trail splits, but always rejoins so it doesn't really matter which way you go. About 0.5 miles shy of the final summit push to come across a small alpine/glaciated type of flat that is really quite awesome, good place for a rest before the final last little steep section to the southern Nebo summit where awe inspiring views await over the Mt. Nebo Wilderness, Middle and Northern Nebo Summits, Santaquin Peak and Utah Lake area. Incredibly steep glacial basins drop down immediately to the east. Return the way you came.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.